The Blues is Dead!

Amen to that!!!

Stinky Kitty Blues Band

With the recent passing of Etta James, “Honeyboy” Edwards, Hubert Sumlin, Gary Moore, Willie Smith and Clarence Clemmons and with the aging of blues legends like BB King, Buddy Guy and even (yikes!) Eric Clapton it seems like the blues is on its way out – only to be read about in history books, right?

NOT EVEN CLOSE!

Believe it or not, the blues is alive and well and growing in popularity every day. You can hear it being played all around, from soundtracks to “mood music” in bars, restaurants and, yes, even elevators. One thing about learning about the 12 bar blues and blues progressions is that you end up hearing the pattern everywhere. Of course blues, and boogie woogie specifically, is the basis for rock and roll, so you’re bound to recognize it in almost anything you hear today.

In fact, there are many current “young” musicians that…

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Cassette Theory

T his weekend, the Wall Street Journaltried its hand at music theory, and it wasn’t pretty.  (NPR ran a similar story on Monday’s episode of All Things Considered.)  In the article, WSJ writer Michaeleen Doucleff claims that “science has found the formula” to why Adele’s ballad “Someone Like You” makes everyone cry, and it’s not that it’s sad or Adele’s a badass or anything like that.  No, Doucleff says, it’s because of a marvelous musical device called an appoggiatura!  The appoggiatura, she claims, is that little ornament of the held-out “you” in Adele’s chorus “never mind, I’ll find someone like you,” where it dips down for a split second mid-note.  Take a listen:

Well, there’s something there, but it ain’t an appoggiatura.

And it wasn’t just me who noticed this error.  I’m not sure about the Wall Street Journal, but NPR received an onslaught of…

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Slight Curvature

[This is part of my Basic Principles of Music Theory Hostility series. Check back for new posts!]

Music is the universal language of mankind – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Importance of Music Theory:

  • Music is a Language – You learn a new hobby and it’s expected that there will be some form of learning curve. If your new hobby is building model trains, certain terminology is needed to speak the language of trains. Music is no different.
  • To communicate your music to other musicians – You come up with a musical idea and want your bass player to play along with you. You should have a common vernacular to express those ideas so you’re both on the same page. In this regard, I’m practically illiterate. I fumble about trying to pull scant musical terminology from my brain leaving the other guy more confused than when we started. My explanations involve me pointing…

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Thought Provoking Perspectives

It is a great joy to share with you the glorious past of the ghost of the greats whose shoulders we stand that are dear to my heart. I am proud to share this article because I love the story of the crossroads. It is a story about the great Delta Blues-man Robert Johnson. The history of music is littered with tragic figures, and none was more tragic than Robert Johnson’s story.

This amazing, ultimate star-crossed musical genius laid the early framework of rock and roll decades before that term was even imagined. Robert Leroy Johnson is among the most famous of all the Delta Blues musicians whose landmark recordings from 1936-37 display a remarkable combination of singing, guitar skills, and tremendous songwriting talent that have influenced generations of musicians. Johnson’s shadowy, poorly documented life, and violent death at age 27 have given rise to much speculation adding to his…

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Response to Band Humor

LondonJazzCollector – I didn’t even understand it but I liked it.

Musician just finished a late club date walks into a bar.
The only other customer on a stool has been drinking all night. The man raises his glass, peers into it for a moment, and than falls slowly backwards, crashing unconscious to the floor.
Musician turns to the barman.
“I’ll have whatever he was having”

Response to Band Humor